Between 2005 and 2009, local artist Valerie Irwin undertook the mammoth task of documenting the demolition and re-development of Cranfield's Mill on Ipswich Dock. Attending the site nearly every day with unprecedented access, Valerie complied a vast selection of observational drawings in charcoal, reflecting the nature of the work.

This 'Change in Charcoal' collection comprises over 4750 charcoal drawings, sketchbooks, digital images, diaries and oral history.

The Suffolk Record Office has identified this unique artistic collection as a valuable addition to the existing Cranfield’s Mill archive, safeguarding the heritage of the changing industrial landscape of the Ipswich Docks. 

Bridget Hanley, Collections Manager at the Suffolk Record Office stated in April 2017 "It struck me as vital to protect the story that Valerie was telling. We agreed that the Suffolk Records Office would like to take this unique collection and preserve it for future generations."


This project will fund the preservation, cataloguing, digitisation, oral history and ultimately the deposit of this collection into the Suffolk Records Office archives.

This archival collection will offer public access to this valuable collection of local heritage, via the records office and through their on-line catalogue. Interest may also come from people who worked at the docks but also builders, architects, artists and students wishing to study this fascinating record of the colossal change in the town’s history.

" Every day becomes history, Valerie Irwin's four years of drawing done on the spot, records momentous changes to Ipswich's Waterfront for posterity"

Des Pawson MBE, Footrope Knots, Museum of Knots & Sailor's Ropework, Ipswich Maritime Trust

Studios from Silos


Drawings by Valerie Irwin

from the Change in Charcoal Collection

Whistler Gallery, DanceEast, Foundry Lane,

Ipswich, IP4 1DW


24th July - 6th September 2019

Open daily 9am to 6pm except for dates below

© 2018 Valerie Irwin                         Photographs bu Douglas Atfield

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